The rise in students being penalised for ‘malpractice’ such as plagiarism and taking unauthorised notes into examination rooms have alarmed education specialists. According to the exam regulator Ofqual, more than 1,000 cases of malpractice were found among GCSE and A-level candidates in England last year alone – a sharp increase from the previous year, which saw 618 points reported

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Many experts believe this newfound focus on cracking down on malpractice is necessary to maintain an environment of fair and equitable examinations. They argue that individuals will be tempted to cheat without stricter penalties or forego academic integrity altogether. While it may seem harsh at first, they say that these measures are essential in preserving the credibility of qualifications across the board.


However, some have criticised the approach as counter-productive and overly punitive. They contend that more should be done to educate students on proper conduct rather than punishing them for what may be honest mistakes or gaps in understanding. There is also a danger that the changes will disproportionately affect those with fewer resources, leading to a wide inequality in educational attainment regardless of ability.

Ultimately, exam boards must uphold reasonable standards while recognising potential disparities among applicants. By taking a holistic approach which prioritises quality education over harsh penalties, we can ensure that everyone has access to quality qualifications – no matter their background.

Tackling malpractice requires an effective strategy that balances the need to maintain fairness while minimising potential harm to applicants. Only then can we ensure that all students can participate in examinations on an equal footing.

By working together and understanding one another’s perspectives, we can strive for a system which works for everyone. Only through collaboration can we achieve a fair and equitable examination environment for the future.

“The principle of fairness requires an effective strategy that balances the need to maintain security and integrity while minimising potential harm to candidates,” said Ofqual’s director of qualifications Douglas Blackstock. “For this reason, it is essential that exam boards uphold high standards while being mindful of the inequalities among candidates.”

Blackstock also noted that to ensure fairness and equity, exam boards must work together with students and teachers to create an environment where everyone can succeed. By understanding one another’s perspectives and working together towards a common goal, we can strive for a system which works for everyone.

Ultimately, it is essential that the examination process takes into account the various backgrounds of its candidates and puts in place measures to ensure that all can access fair and equitable qualifications – no matter their circumstances. Only then will we be able to guarantee a future where everyone has access to quality education

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